World Vision alarmed at staggering number of recently unaccompanied and separated South Sudanese children seeking refuge in Uganda.
Humanitarian organisation World Vision reports that some 9,000 unaccompanied minors and separated children from South Sudan have crossed into Uganda since July 2016.
The organization warns that unless conflict ceases in South Sudan, by mid-2017, Uganda could be home to some 10,000 recently separated and unaccompanied refugee children.World Vision is currently overseeing case management and identification of separated refugee children and unaccompanied minors at Bidibidi and Imvepi refugee settlements in northern Uganda.
‘’Every day, World Vision is registering more than 100 separated and unaccompanied minors at Imvepi refugee settlement. The majority of these children saw their parents being killed while others lost touch with their families once fighting broke out. Some of them walk for more than a week to get to Uganda, with nothing to eat. This is one of the worst forms of violence against children. It must stop. Peace needs to prevail in South Sudan,’’ urged Gilbert Kamanga, the World Vision Uganda country director.
Uganda has been receiving more than 2,000 refugees from South Sudan daily, with women and children accounting for 86% of this number, according to international refugee body UNHCR.Uganda, currently home to more than 890,000 refugees from South Sudan has in the last year become host to the largest refugee settlement in the world, Bidibidi with a population of 270,000 people.
‘’Children make up the highest percentage of new arrivals and they bear the brunt of the conflict in South Sudan. This ongoing influx has caused huge gaps in the areas of child protection, psychosocial support, education, peaceful coexistence and youth development programming,’’ added Mr. Kamanga
According to World Vision, 6,057 unaccompanied minors and separated children have been registered in Bidibidi settlement, while 3,098 have been registered at Imvepi refugee settlement.
Together with its partners, World Vision has been able to institute interim foster care support for more than 2,500 unaccompanied minors plus help at least 1,000 separated children re-unite with their relatives.
World Vision says implementing partners on the ground could do more to meet the needs of the affected children but only if they can access sufficient funding.
World Vision Uganda has appealed for USD20 million to meet the needs of more than 898,000 refugees, and additional new arrivals and vulnerable host community members over next 12 months in the West Nile region. World Vision Uganda has supported more than 661,000 refugees and host community members in the area in April alone through its interventions ranging from food assistance, provisioning of Core Relief Items to child protection, livelihoods and WASH support.
The humanitarian response in Uganda continues to face significant challenges in light of chronic and severe underfunding. In 2016, the humanitarian response for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda received just 40% of the USD251 million requested, compromising the abilities of the response to provide vital aid.
UNHCR and WFP in a joint statement on 15 May appealed for US$ 1.4 bn for the South Sudanese refugee response in hosting countries, among them Uganda with the biggest caseload.
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